“Agreed !” Mélanie of the Goats said to me by way of acquiescence. So I agreed : an all-wooden rake (which the friend Paul S. had made for me) against a basket of potatos. But has one ever seen potatos like that (Marie of Sabart cried out ecstatic), four of them filled the basket ! The deal was concluded outside Mélanie’s house which faces the Castle. Mélanie was at first surprized that the Countess did not accompany me, then seized by fear, pressed me to tell her whether we were truly going to lose it, the Castle. A wild sow, followed by some ten wild young ones, passed in front of us, indifferent to our conversation in oc.
Mélanie was married for eight days. This was at the time of the declaration of the last war. Her husband never came back. Since this time, Mélanie raises rabbits, watches over her goats and brings potatos to an enormous size, within earshot, if not in the shadow of the walls of the fortress Montségur.
Mélanie does not practise the language of the Crusaders and likewise could not converse in the language of the Lieutenant Philip Montbatten who was a professor at a Wiltshire naval School, on the date when Mélanie’s husband joined the front of the Allies. On the ground, the fiancé of the king of England’s daughter was just an officer like any other. When he did not make a tack through naval history for the use of his young recruits, he dashed into the vegetable garden of the Admiralty, pushed back his sleeves and set to digging. It was said that he had a green hand and that he produced the most beautiful potatos of Wiltshire, a County where a good potato-producer is a very respected citizen, as confirmed by Eric Horlock, the butcher, Jack Daymond the baker, Bert Powell the bookmaker or the maid Nellie Harrington, and a few others who are prepared to swear that the lieutenant Mountbatten amused himself like “anyone else among us” and that he had revealed himself as an excellent skittle-player. As it inevitably runs in the family, the Queen’s daughter-in-law will in her turn find out that her Majesty’s son also has a green hand in her gardens in Scotland ...
“God with you !” Mélanie lets out to me while I am removing myself.
Claude d’Esplas (Le Parcellaire)
All rights reserved
Translation : Dagmar Coward Kuschke (Tübingen)